Berlin, Jan 28 (IANS) Leipzig secured its second straight victory after Dominik Szoboszlai provided a brace to beat Stuttgart 2-1 at the curtain raiser of the 18th round.
The ‘Swabians’ caught a bright start on the road as Thomas Kastanaras unleashed a dangerous shot from the edge of the box to test Leipzig’s goalkeeper Janis Blaswich with nine minutes played, reports Xinhua news agency.
Leipzig needed some time to gain a foothold into the game but opened the scoring with its first attempt as Szoboszlai’s free-kick from 30 meters caught Stuttgart custodian Florian Muller flat-footed in the 25th minute.
The “Red Bulls” had a chance to double their advantage seven minutes later, but Andre Silva’s header went just wide.
After the restart, Stuttgart missed the golden opportunity to level the scores as Nikolas Nartey couldn’t beat Blaswich from very close range in the 46th minute.
Clinical Leipzig showed no mercy and made it two at the other end of the pitch through Szoboszlai, who marked his second of the night after drilling the ball from 16 meters into the top left corner with 49 minutes gone.
Leipzig continued on the front foot but lacked in accuracy as Silva missed the target by a header from five meters at the hour mark.
Stuttgart was eventually able to halve the deficit in the 68th minute when Chris Fuhrich converted a handball penalty.
The visitors from the South pressed frenetically for the equalizer in the closing stages but Leipzig’s defense stood firm and secured all three points on home soil.
With the result, Leipzig close the arrears to front runners Bayern Munich to one point for the moment.
“The boys staged a sensational performance. It may sound weird as we didn’t clinch any points here, but I am proud of my team,” said Stuttgart coach Bruno Labbadia.
“My aim was to help the team. It really doesn’t matter whether through goals or assists. When you are up there you want to stay there and keep attacking. For that, you need results like today,” commented Szoboszlai.